I started taking photos in 2020 as a hobby, the idea of photography excited me as it was a way to see the city and my Vancouver neighbourhood through a different lens.
Growing up my mom loved photography and had always had a Nikon FE around. As a child, I loved holding the camera, turning the knobs and dials, it was a special privilege when I got to hold the camera which and I always thought of it as a great responsibility. I remember looking through albums for her prints that she had developed herself full of beautiful double exposures, landscape views, and candid baby photos all taken with her artistic point of view that always held my attention.
I assumed, as I embarked on my new hobby, that I would be nothing less than a natural, after a small learning curve and reading about the basics I would have beautifully curate shots to proudly display in my own albums. I carefully picked out the same camera I had grown up seeing my mom use, a Nikon FE with a 50mm f/1.8 lens, and set out to be great. My camera arrived with perfect timing in the post a few days before I was leaving for an international trip to Europe.
During the trip, I tried to choose all my shots carefully, acutely aware that I only had 36 shots of Kodak T-MAX 400 to get things right. The weather was mostly rainy so I protectively kept my new treasure tucked away from the wetness many of the days but I did end up taking 4 rolls of film throughout the trip. I spent downtime reading and rereading rules about aperture, and shutter speed, composition, and lighting imaging that I had nailed the concepts and had a few bangers on the roll.
When I arrived home, I began phase two of my plan, developing the film. This part made me more nervous however I was resolute in being in complete control of my shots; start to finish. I watched many YouTube videos and wrote down all the steps, looked up the Massive Dev Chart, checked and doubled checked the timing, and finally developed a practice roll to ensure I had it all right. Things went perfectly, the practice roll was developed with no glitches. I was ready to develop my first real roll of film. Any film photographer can relate to the excitement of seeing their shots for the first time, I was equally nervous and excited but in my heart, I knew everything would work out wonderfully, and soon I would be filling albums full of my own gorgeous prints.
I followed all steps exactly as I practiced, and when I finally pulled the roll of film off the spool my heart sank. The shots were not perfect and something seemed very wrong with the developing process.
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It was not what I had envisioned and I was instantly defeated. What I failed to realize prior to developing the rolls was that some film needs to be rinsed longer than others, something a little more research later taught me.
At first, I was so disappointed that I could not see my shots for what they were, unique and beautiful in their own way. I felt so much pressure to be good right away instead of enjoying the learning process. Once I could see past the expectation I had built up in my mind I was humbled by the experience, I began to love the photos for what they were not what I wanted them to be.
I started to ask myself why I had these great expectations for my first roll of film. How could I expect to be good at something my first time? Why did I assume everything would just work out for me, without putting in the leg work?
I realized that most people probably feel this way in the beginning, mainstream social media, peer and family pressure often shows us how perfect everyone is at their craft and at their art but what people fail to show is the work, the process, and the failures of getting there.
I called this collection of photos The Haunt, and I cherish them more than I would if the roll would have come out perfectly. My first roll taught me that my failures are unique, I learned to let go of perfect standards and simply enjoy the process.
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